In the wake of allegations of racial harassment, discrimination and other incidents at Lexington Catholic High School, the president of the Lexington NAACP chapter said he has met with Bishop John Stowe of the Catholic Diocese of Lexington and is asking for the resignation of the school’s principal, Sally Stevens, and its president, Steve Angelucci.
Incidents have been mishandled, said William Saunders, president of the Lexington-Fayette NAACP, “and there is racial discrimination going on.”
Saunders said he met with the bishop Thursday.
Amos Jones, a Washington, D.C., civil rights attorney who is originally from Lexington, said Friday he is now representing five former Lexington Catholic students who allege separate incidents, including harassment and assault. The latest three cases involve allegations of sexual harassment or assault.
Since last week, Jones has been representing a student who said he was harassed by teammates on Lexington Catholic’s football team. Investigators said the harassment was racially motivated, and a 17-year-old boy was charged April 7 with harassing communications and third-degree terroristic threatening.
Jones told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that the second case involved a black student who withdrew from the school Tuesday after a string of incidents that culminated in the student being pushed in the cafeteria by a white student.
The third student retaining Jones is a white female who sought representation Thursday because of the school’s handling of her allegation that she was sexually assaulted by two white students at a chaperoned off-campus event, he said.
The two latest cases, Jones said, involved female students who reported sexual harassment and then had to leave Lexington Catholic after alleging cover-ups.
Jones, in a statement late Friday afternoon, said female attorneys in Frankfort and Louisville will serve as co-counsel.
Since last week, Jones has said, seven current and former students and one former Lexington Catholic teacher “came forward alleging patterns of discrimination, harassment, reprisal and administrative cover-ups at the school in recent decades.”
The Lexington chapter of the NAACP pushed last week for the first case to be investigated as a hate crime.
In that case, The Key Newsjournal reported that Denisha Vinegar found threatening messages to her son on his computer. Vinegar told the Newsjournal the messages included a threat of lynching and comments telling her son to pick cotton or sell crack to make money.
Saunders, in an interview on Friday, said NAACP officials also talked to the bishop about doing diversity training at the school and concerns they had about alleged improper athletic recruitment of black students. He said there is another meeting scheduled for next week.
In response, the diocese released a statement that said, “The bishop welcomed the opportunity to meet with the NAACP and hopes that they can be a resource in moving forward against the remnants of racism.”
Lexington Catholic High officials did not return a phone call Friday afternoon. But on Wednesday, Angelucci released a statement that said, “We want to reiterate in the strongest way possible that we will investigate the incidents, complaints and concerns that students or their parents bring to our attention and take appropriate action.”
After the first case, Angelucci had said the school planned to implement diversity and sensitivity training, and he said “we offer our apologies to the student and family impacted by this.”